With the regular season now complete, we wrap up our reviews of each franchise. Who emerged, what went wrong, what lies ahead. A look at post season chances, long term potential and upgrades possible in this summer's NBA draft. We conclude in the Central Division of the Eastern Conference with the Chicago Bulls.
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The Bulls are the Central Division champs and more importantly the top seed in the Eastern Conference. Chicago has endured an injury filled season of Derek Rose and disappointment in free agent Richard Hamilton. In order to get to the finals, and past Miami, the Bulls will need continued strong play from the front court and improved play (and health) in the backcourt. Chicago has the coaching and home court advantage to get it done, it will likely come down to Rose's ability to log heavy minutes throughout the playoffs.
The Bulls are nearly $20 million over the cap and $6 million into luxury tax, but have a young playoff core to ride. The mid-level exemption will be their tool, they can only hope for better results than Rip Hamilton has provided.
Chicago's second round pick is property of Los Angeles, but the Lakers may opt for cash instead. In the first round, a big man is on the menu, even if Omer Asik is convinced to return,. The Bulls would love to land Ilinois star Myers Leonard, but Vanderbilt center Festus Ezeli is more likely to be around when they select.
Carlos Boozer is a potential amnesty target, but not as long as he is contributing at a high level.
The Good: Despite the absence of Derek Rose, the Bulls battled to outlast the Heat for the top seed in the Eastern Conference. Not having to play the Heat until the Conference finals is a big deal. Chicago's front court of Boozer, Deng and Noah can matchup against anyone and Taj Gibson and Omer Asik are as good as it gets off the bench in the paint. If healthy, Rose is capable of carrying the Bulls far, but Chicago will need him healthy and Hamilton to step up.
The Bad: Derek Rose has only played in 38 games this season, but returned over the weekend. With three false starts over the past five weeks, the Bulls can only hope their MVP point guard is back to stay. Richard Hamilton was supposed to answer the long question mark at shooting guard, but has come up short. The backcourt play will determine the Bulls fate, they can only hope that Rose is finally healthy and Rip can give them the scoring option from the perimeter to help Rose.
The Bulls have ten players returning under contract for 2012-'13. Three contracts are not guaranteed; Kyle Korver, Ronnie Brewer and C.J.Watson. All three are key role players and we must assume they will be considered for return. Omer Asik becomes a free agent and will be a high priority as a key reserve behind Noah.
Why read boxscores when you can find out everything that happened in Howard Bender's nightly Fantasy Baseball Roundup
Carlos Boozer, Luol Deng, Taj Gibson
Derek Rose, Richard Hamilton, Jimmy Butler, Kyle Korver, Ronnie Brewer, C.J. Watson
Omer Asik, John Lucas, Brian Scalabrine, Mike James
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Tom Blaz is a writer for Fantasy Alarm and co-owner of The Recruiting Eagle a website focusing on Auburn University Athletics.
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